Tag Archives: IOM

Chatham House Briefing Paper: Responding to Migration from Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Lessons Learned from Libya

A new Chatham House Briefing Paper by Dr Khalid Koser entitled “Responding to Migration from Complex Humanitarian Emergencies: Lessons Learned from Libya” has been released.

Summary:

  • At its peak during the Libyan conflict, migration to Tunisia and Egypt was massive, even in the context of a region where large-scale migration has become the norm.
  • In the case of Libya, at least five categories of migration can be distinguished: evacuating migrant workers, Libyan nationals moving into Egypt and Tunisia, ‘boat people’ arriving in the EU, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and asylum-seekers and refugees.
  • The international policy response in Libya was hampered by restricted access. IDPs therefore received limited assistance and protection, and migrant workers, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, experienced harassment and abuse.
  • The policy response in neighbouring states, especially Egypt and Tunisia, was far more robust.
  • The political response in the EU to the relatively small proportion of migrants who reached Europe is considered by many commentators to have been disproportionate.
  • The crisis has highlighted a gap in the international regime for protecting IDPs, and in particular migrant workers. It has also called into question the relevance to modern humanitarian crises of a dated refugee definition. More positively, the response has demonstrated how international agencies can cooperate, and there has been unprecedented cooperation between IOM and UNHCR to respond to ‘mixed flows’ from Libya.
  • Responsibility for managing migration now falls to the new government in Libya.

Click here for paper.

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Expert Meeting on Asylum Seekers and Migrants in Distress at Sea Begins in Djibouti

From an IOM press statement:

“IOM is taking part in a three-day meeting organized by UNHCR and the Government of Djibouti on how best to respond to the needs of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees who find themselves in situations of distress at sea. The meeting, which opens today [8 November] in Djibouti, brings together government representatives and academics alongside experts from UNHCR, IOM, the International Maritime Organization, the ICRC and IFRC….

‘Despite the tightening of existing Conventions to reinforce the global Search and Rescue regime, gaps remain when it comes to putting these principles into practice,’ says IOM’s Irena Vojackova-Sollorano. ‘Cooperative approaches that bring together governments, the shipping industry, NGOs and international organizations are therefore urgently needed if we are to ensure the safety and protection of all people rescued at sea.’…”

Click here for full press statement.

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Trapped Migrants Face Increasing Violence at Sidi Bilal Near Tripoli

From Refugees International, 7 October:  “More than 600 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are effectively stranded at a port just outside the Libyan capital, and have been left to fend for themselves by Libyan authorities. Despite repeated attacks, harassment, and arbitrary arrests by Libyan gangs over the course of four months, they have received no protection from the National Transitional Council (NTC). Refugees International calls on the NTC and all local authorities – including the civilian councils in Janzour and Tripoli, and the Tripoli Military Council – to intervene immediately to protect the population at Sidi Bilal port and ensure their safe relocation to a temporary site.  ‘The men in these camps are routinely harassed and accused of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries, the women are targets of sexual abuse. All face intimidation by armed Libyan thugs who drive into the port at night firing guns into the air,’ said Matt Pennington, an advocate for Refugees International currently in Libya. ‘Of course, many migrants told us they don’t really want to leave Libya – since they have nothing to return to in their home countries. But even for those who want to stay in Libya, their situation is becoming intolerable.’  …  So far, the UN World Food Programme has delivered one food drop to the imperilled migrants, while the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration have been attempting to negotiate safe relocation for those who want to stay and repatriation for those who want to return home. But what the population of Sidi Bilal most urgently needs is protection, and Libyan and UN authorities must act swiftly to provide it.”

Click here for full statement.

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UNHCR, IOM, and Save the Children Warn that Italy’s Decision to Declare Lampedusa a Non-Safe Port Endangers Sea Rescue Operations

UNHCR, IOM, and Save the Children issued a joint statement expressing concern that Italy’s decision to declare Lampedusa an unsafe port which can no longer receive persons rescued at sea risks “undermin[ing] the entire rescue at sea system for migrants and asylum seekers and at the same time could make rescue operations  much more hazardous and complex.”

“Since it is no longer  possible to dock in Lampedusa, the ability of the Coast Guard and the “Guardia di Finanza” to carry out rescue at sea will be compromised by the distance they will have to travel to reach the next safe port, e.g Porto Empedocle, 120 nautical miles away. This would have severe implications on rescue operations when the weather is bad, or when it involves transporting people in need of urgent medical assistance, minors and other vulnerable individuals.

Therefore, the partner organizations of the Praesidium Project hope that  the  Lampedusa centre will be re-established as soon as possible to ensure adequate  reception  and swift transit for migrants who should be hosted in the centre only for a minimum period of time to allow for assistance and identification before being transferred to appropriate facilities elsewhere in Italy.

Whilst the three partner organizations understand the pressure the island has been under in recent times and the limited capacity of the reception and rescue centre, it is important that Lampedusa remains a safe harbour in order to save lives. …”

Click here (EN) or here (IT) for joint statement.

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IOM and Italy Sign Agreement to Facilitate Voluntary Returns for Migrants Recently Arrived from North Africa

Italy and IOM signed an agreement last week pursuant to which IOM will facilitate the voluntary returns of up to 600 migrants from Italy.  The agreement will be in place until the end of 2011.  The agreement is focused on assisting with the returns of migrants who have recently arrived in Italy from North Africa to their various countries of origin.

Click here for IOM statement on the programme.  (IT).

Click here for statement from the Dipartimento della Protezione Civile.  (IT).

Click here for article. (IT).

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UNHCR: Sub-Saharan Africans Targeted in Libya; 2 IOM Ships Evacuate Migrants from Tripoli

UNHCR said Friday that reports are emerging from Tripoli that “people being targeted because of their colour as the city fell to rebel forces”; UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called for sub-Saharan Africans to be protected.  “The High Commissioner has urged restraint from rebel forces and Libyan civilians. ‘We have seen at earlier stages in this crisis that such people, Africans especially, can be particularly vulnerable to hostility or acts of vengeance,’ he said.  ‘It is crucial that humanitarian law prevails through these climactic moments and that foreigners – including refugees and migrant workers – are being fully and properly protected from harm,’ he stressed.”

IOM has chartered ships in order to evacuate migrants from Tripoli to Benghazi.  According to IOM, 263 people were evacuated from Tripoli on Thursday night.  “Among those evacuated were Egyptians, Lebanese, Algerians, Filipinos, Americans, Swiss, Lebanese, Italians, Indians, Sudanese, a German, a Canadian and an Iraqi.”  A second IOM-chartered ship, probably the Fehim Bay (which according to MarineTraffic.com is currently a Moldovan flagged ship), was scheduled to evacuate a larger group of migrants on Saturday.  According to AIS tracking information, the ship as of Sunday morning is en route to Benghazi.  IOM reported that “the second evacuation operation will aim to assist groups of Bangladeshi, Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Egyptian migrants.”

From IOM statements: “IOM staff in Tripoli say that getting migrants scattered across [Tripoli] to the port is the single most challenging issue of the operation.  Continued fighting in parts of the city, the many checkpoints and sniper fire represent the main obstacles to movement within the city as well as lack of fuel.  ‘Movement is extremely slow as well as dangerous. Crossing checkpoints manned by different groups with different demands is very challenging,’ says IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Pasquale Lupoli. ‘And then there are snipers.’  Although IOM managed to get the 263 migrants to the port through arrangements with some concerned embassies and other parties, the Organization remains deeply concerned that migrants who want and need evacuation assistance may not be able to get it because they cannot get to the port. Some, such as Sub-Saharan Africans, are largely on the outskirts of Tripoli and far from the port vicinity.”

Click here for UNHCR press statement.

Click here and here for IOM press statements.

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IOM: Large Number of Migrants in Tripoli in Need of Urgent Evacuation

Full text of IOM statement:

19-08-2011

 Libya - IOM is working to evacuate the growing number of migrants in need of help in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

The Organization has received several requests to evacuate foreign nationals in Tripoli who are increasingly vulnerable and now want to leave.

Large numbers of Egyptian migrants are still believed to be in Tripoli and in the western part of Libya, with many other nationalities still present in the capital. Exact numbers of the total migrant population in the capital area are unknown.  Thousands of Egyptians have now registered with their Embassy and are ready for evacuation.

As IOM actively prepares a foreign national evacuation plan taking into account the highly complex logistical, political and security challenges, the Organization will soon be in need of significant new funds to carry out this urgent humanitarian operation.

“A rapid response on this is critical to ensuring that in the small window of opportunity we have to get people out of Tripoli, we are not constrained by funding issues,” says Pasquale Lupoli, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, in Cairo.

In addition to the many thousands of stranded migrants IOM has assisted elsewhere in Libya since the start of the crisis in late February, IOM has evacuated more than 10,000 migrants by road from Tripoli to the Tunisian border point at Ras Adjir. That evacuation route had eventually to be abandoned due to increased fighting between rebel and government forces.

As logistics for this special operation from Tripoli are put into place, the Organization is continuing to evacuate migrants elsewhere.

Today, another IOM-chartered ship will be leaving the eastern Libyan town of Benghazi for Misrata on the 15th mission to evacuate migrants, mainly from northern African. It is the first of two rotations to take place between now and mid next week.

More than 8,300 migrants and wounded civilians have so far been assisted by IOM on its Misrata operations with funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian and Civil Aid department (ECHO), the Australian, British, German, Irish, Japanese and US governments. The Organization has also delivered several thousands of humanitarian aid to the port city.

Click here for statement.

Click here to donate to IOM.

 

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PACE Adopts Resolution and Recommendation Regarding the Interception and Rescue at Sea of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Irregular Migrants

On 21 June 2011, PACE adopted Resolution 1821 and Recommendation 1974 both relating to “the interception and rescue at sea of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants.” 

Here are extensive excerpts:

Provisional edition – The interception and rescue at sea of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants – Resolution 1821 (2011)1

“1.       The surveillance of Europe’s southern borders has become a regional priority. The European continent is having to cope with the relatively large-scale arrival of migratory flows by boat from Africa, reaching Europe mainly through Italy, Malta, Spain, Greece and Cyprus.

[***]

5.       The Assembly notes that measures to manage these maritime arrivals raise numerous problems, of which five are particularly worrying:

5.1.       Despite several relevant international instruments satisfactorily setting out the rights and obligations of states and individuals applicable in this area, interpretations of their content appear to differ. Some states do not agree on the nature and extent of their responsibilities in specific situations and some states also call into question the application of the principle of non-refoulement on the high seas;

5.2.       While the absolute priority in the event of interception at sea is the swift disembarkation of those rescued to a “place of safety”, the notion of “place of safety” does not appear to be interpreted in the same way by all member states. Yet it is clear that the notion of “place of safety” should not be restricted solely to the physical protection of people, but necessarily also entails respect for their fundamental rights;

5.3.       Divergences of this kind directly endanger the lives of the persons to be rescued, in particular by delaying or preventing rescue measures, and are likely to dissuade seafarers from rescuing people in distress at sea. Furthermore, they could result in a violation of the principle of non-refoulement in respect of a number of persons, including some in need of international protection;

5.4.       Although the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member states of the European Union (Frontex) plays an ever increasing role in interception at sea, the guarantees of respect for human rights and obligations arising under international and European Union law in the context of the joint operations it co-ordinates are inadequate;

5.5.       Finally, these sea arrivals place a disproportionate burden on the states located on the southern borders of the European Union. The goal of responsibilities being shared more fairly and greater solidarity in the migration sphere between European states is far from being attained.

6.       The situation is rendered more complex by the fact that these migratory flows are of a mixed nature and therefore call for specialised and tailored protection-sensitive responses in keeping with the status of those rescued. To respond to sea arrivals adequately and in line with the relevant international standards, the states must take account of this aspect in their migration management policies and activities.

[***]

8.       Finally and above all, the Assembly reminds the member states that they have both a moral and legal obligation to save persons in distress at sea without the slightest delay, and unequivocally reiterates the interpretation given by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which states that the principle of non-refoulement is equally applicable on the high seas. The high seas are not an area where states are exempt from their legal obligations, including those emerging from international human rights law and international refugee law.

9.       Accordingly, the Assembly calls on the member states, when conducting maritime border surveillance operations, whether in the context of preventing smuggling and trafficking in human beings or in connection with border management, be it in the exercise of de jure or de facto jurisdiction, to:

9.1.       fulfil without exception and without delay their obligation to save people in distress at sea;

9.2.       ensure that their border management policies and activities, including interception measures, recognise the mixed make-up of flows of individuals attempting to cross maritime borders;

9.3.       guarantee for all intercepted persons humane treatment and systematic respect for their human rights, including the principle of non-refoulement, regardless of whether interception measures are implemented within their own territorial waters, those of another state on the basis of an ad hoc bilateral agreement, or on the high seas;

9.4.       refrain from any practices that might be tantamount to direct or indirect refoulement, including on the high seas, in keeping with the UNHCR’s interpretation of the extraterritorial application of that principle and with the relevant judgements of the European Court of Human Rights;

9.5.       carry out as a priority action the swift disembarkation of rescued persons to a “place of safety” and interpret a “place of safety” as meaning a place which can meet the immediate needs of those disembarked and in no way jeopardises their fundamental rights, since the notion of “safety” extends beyond mere protection from physical danger and must also take into account the fundamental rights dimension of the proposed place of disembarkation;

9.6.       guarantee access to a fair and effective asylum procedure for those intercepted who are in need of international protection;

9.7.       guarantee access to protection and assistance, including to asylum procedures, for those intercepted who are victims of human trafficking or at risk of being trafficked;

9.8.       ensure that the placement in a detention facility of those intercepted – always excluding minors and vulnerable categories –, regardless of their status, is authorised by the judicial authorities and occurs only where necessary and on grounds prescribed by law, that there is no other suitable alternative and that such placement conforms to the minimum standards and principles set forth in Assembly Resolution 1707 (2010) on the detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe;

9.9.       suspend any bilateral agreements they may have concluded with third states if the human rights of those intercepted are not appropriately guaranteed therein, particularly the right of access to an asylum procedure, and wherever these might be tantamount to a violation of the principle of non-refoulement, and conclude new bilateral agreements specifically containing such human rights guarantees and measures for their regular and effective monitoring;

9.10.       sign and ratify, if they have not already done so, the aforementioned relevant international instruments and take account of the Guidelines of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on the Treatment of Persons rescued at Sea;

9.11.       sign and ratify, if they have not already done so, the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (CETS No. 197) and the so-called “Palermo Protocols” to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000);

9.12.       ensure that maritime border surveillance operations and border control measures do not affect the specific protection afforded under international law to vulnerable categories such as refugees, stateless persons, women and unaccompanied children, migrants, victims of trafficking or at risk of being trafficked, or victims of torture and trauma.

10.       The Assembly is concerned about the lack of clarity regarding the respective responsibilities of European Union states and Frontex and the absence of adequate guarantees for the respect of fundamental rights and international standards in the framework of joint operations co-ordinated by that agency. While the Assembly welcomes the proposals presented by the European Commission to amend the rules governing that agency, with a view to strengthening guarantees of full respect for fundamental rights, it considers them inadequate and would like the European Parliament to be entrusted with the democratic supervision of the agency’s activities, particularly where respect for fundamental rights is concerned.

[***]”

Provisional edition – The interception and rescue at sea of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants – Recommendation 1974 (2011)1

“[***]

4.       [***] the Assembly reminds the Committee of Ministers of its dual responsibility: to support those member states that are in need, but also to make sure that all human rights obligations are complied with in the context of the interception and rescue at sea of asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants, including by guaranteeing to those intercepted access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure.

5.       The Assembly therefore calls on the Committee of Ministers to:

5.1.       include in the training material all necessary elements to enable the trained persons to proceed to a screening assessment of the international protection needs of intercepted persons and to ensure that staff involved in the operations of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member states of the European Union (Frontex) are trained accordingly;

5.2.       define, in close co-operation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), guidelines and standard operating procedures, when interception and rescue at sea takes place, determining minimum administrative procedures to guarantee that those persons with international protection needs are identified and provided with the appropriate protection;

5.3.       continue monitoring the situation of large-scale arrivals of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, and in particular the issue of interception and rescue at sea, including by holding extraordinary meetings on the situation, where appropriate, and use the good offices of the UNHCR with its representative at the Council of Europe, where relevant.”

Click here for full text of Resolution 1821 (2011).

Click here for full text of Recommendation 1974 (2011).

Click here  for speech by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) presenting the Resolution. (Scroll down page for the English text of speech.)

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Council of Europe, Cyprus, Frontex, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Spain, Statements, UNHCR

CARIM: Libya Migration Profile

CARIM has published an updated Migration Profile for Libya.  The profile includes IOM data regarding migrant departures from Libya between 20 February and 26 May 2011 which again highlights the humanitarian burden imposed on Tunisia and Egypt relative to Italy and the EU.

Tunisia received 232,856 individuals from Libya during this period (185,442 of whom were TCNs) which is 43.8% of the total number of migrants who have fled Libya.  Egypt received 172,318 individuals (74,911 TCNs) which constitutes 32.4% of the migrants who have fled.  Italy received 13,110 individuals (all TCNs) which constitutes 2.5% of the total.   Niger received 13.1% of the total, Chad 5.1%, Algeria 2.3%, and Malta 0.3%.

Click here for the Profile.

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Update Regarding Migrant Boat Sinking Off Tunisian Coast

Tunisian authorities continue to recover the bodies of victims from the migrant boat that capsized off the coast of the Kerkennah islands  last week.  TAP reported that 26 additional bodies were recovered on Sunday, 5 June.  Poor weather conditions on Sunday made recovery operations difficult.  According to TAP, 577 persons were rescued from the boat and 200 to 270 persons are believed to have drowned.  There are conflicting media reports regarding the numbers of confirmed deaths.  Some reports indicate that at least 150 bodies have been recovered in addition to the 26 bodies reportedly recovered on 5 June.

The boat, named The Wave, ran around last week, probably on Wednesday, 1 June.  The boat did not capsize until after rescue boats had arrived on the scene.   Tunisian coast guard and local fishing boats were involved in the rescue efforts.  The rescue boats did not have the capacity to rescue all of the migrants from the stranded migrant boat and some people jumped into the water and others moved to one side of the migrant boat causing it to capsize.  Media pictures show the vessel in an upright position with some rescue boats already on scene.  A France24 video report contains cell phone video shot immediately after the boat capsized.  (See pictures below.)

UNHCR and IOM staff have conducted interviews with some of the survivors.  According to UNHCR, the boat left Tripoli on 28 May with up to 850 people on board.  The passengers were primarily from West Africa, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The crew was recruited on an ad hoc basis and had little or no maritime experience. The France24 video report states that survivors said Libyan military assisted them in leaving Libya.  The boat became lost after leaving Tripoli and on Wednesday, 1 June, it ran around near the Kerkennah islands.  UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said that the boat “capsized as desperate passengers rushed to one side, seeking rescue by the Tunisian coast guard and fishing boats that had approached the vessel. Many fell into the water.”  IOM staff reported that at least one survivor said that during the boat’s voyage some people were thrown overboard alive.  The boat reportedly had run out of food and water.

Click here for a France24 video news report (EN) with cell phone video shot immediately after the migrant boat capsized.

Click here and here for UNHCR reports on the incident.

Click here for IOM Press Briefing Note.

Click here, here, here, and here for Tunisian articles. (FR)

Click here, here, and here for articles.  (EN)

Photo Agence Tunis Afrique Presse 04 juin 2011

La Garde maritime à Sfax au secours du chalutier libyen bloqué au large de Kerkennah (Photo AFP)

France24 03 June 2011 - Screen shot

France24 03 June 2011 - Screen Shot

 

 

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10+ Countries Agree to Accept 300+ Asylum Seekers from Malta

After the Pledging Conference on Relocation and Resettlement which was held by Commissioner Malmström in the margins of yesterday’s JHA Council meeting, it has been announced that at least ten EU member states (news reports have identified different countries – Germany, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Hungary, Denmark, Slovakia, and Luxembourg have been mentioned) as well several non-EU MS (news reports have mentioned Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Norway), have agreed to resettle 323 asylum seekers who are currently in Malta.  Germany will reportedly resettle 100 migrants.  Most of the other resettlement pledges are for small token numbers.  There are over 2500 asylum seekers, beneficiaries of international protection, and migrants currently in Malta.

The Commission will provide funding for the extension of the pilot project of relocation from Malta, as well as for resettlement directly from North Africa, undertaken on a voluntary basis by MS.  Funding for the project has previously been provided through the European Refugee Fund.  The pledging conference that was held yesterday was reportedly the first such conference held since the Maltese pilot project known as European Relocation Malta (Eurema) began in July 2009.  The project was scheduled to end this year but has been extended for at least one more year given the current situation in Libya.

Click here, here, and here for articles.

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IOM Reports Migrants Were Forced by Libyan Soldiers to Board Boats

The International Organization for Migration has interviewed migrants who reached Lampedusa who witnessed the migrant boat carrying 500-600 people that sank just off the Libyan coast this past Thursday or Friday.  IOM reports that persons who were preparing to leave Libya on a second migrant boat witnessed the accident involving the first boat.  “Migrants … told IOM that after seeing what had happened to the first boat, many of them who had been waiting on land [preparing to board the second boat] changed their mind about making the sea journey to Italy. However, they claim that Libyan soldiers and officials forced them onto a waiting boat by firing their guns indirectly.  Although this is the first time that IOM has been told of migrants being forced by Libyan officials to get on a boat, many have told IOM that they did not have to pay for their passage to Lampedusa while others say they have paid a nominal fee. However, they say that they been stripped by officials and soldiers of their savings and possessions, including mobile phones….”

Click here for IOM press briefing.

Click here for article.

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COE Parliamentary Assembly Adopts Resolution Regarding North African Migrants & Asylum Seekers

Earlier today PACE approved a resolution based on a report by Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC) addressing the large influx of migrants and asylum seekers on Europe’s southern borders.  From the PACE press statement: the Assembly “welcomed the efforts so far of the ‘frontline states’ to provide humanitarian assistance in line with their international obligations, and urged other European countries to ‘show solidarity’ with them, including by agreeing to resettle refugees and other persons with international protection needs. Malta was in a ‘particularly difficult situation’ given its small size, high population and limited resources… If the current wave of arrivals in Europe increases because of an even greater exodus of persons from Libya, in particular Libyans fleeing terror from Colonel Gaddafi’s regime or an entrenched civil war, the EU should consider applying its temporary protection directive….”

Excerpts from PACE Resolution 1805 (2011):

The large-scale arrival of irregular migrants, asylum seekers and refugees on Europe’s southern shores

“[***]

6.       The Parliamentary Assembly recognises that one of the first priorities is to deal with the humanitarian and international protection needs of those who have arrived on Europe’s shores, primarily in Italy and Malta. Member states, the European Union, international organisations, civil society and others all have a contribution to make and need to show solidarity with the front-line states. This solidarity and willingness to share responsibility needs to extend to the coast of North Africa and the many thousands of refugees and displaced persons still seeking ways to return home after fleeing from Libya. It should also extend to those migrants and refugees who are trapped in Libya awaiting the chance to flee.

7.       The Assembly notes that while there has been a wave of arrivals, there has not yet been the feared total deluge. This distinction is important because it has not always been clearly made by politicians, the media and others, leading to heightened fear and misunderstanding among the general public and calls for exaggerated responses.

8.       The Assembly recognises the pressure that the front-line countries of the Council of Europe are under, and welcomes their efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in line with international obligations and encourages them to continue with these efforts. The Assembly reminds states of their international obligations not to push back boats which are carrying persons with international protection needs.

[***]

12.       The Assembly, recognising that events in North Africa are of concern to all member states of the Council of Europe, therefore calls on member states to:

12.1.        acknowledge that the arrival of a large number of irregular immigrants on the southern shores of Europe is the responsibility of all European states and requires a solution which envisages the need to share this responsibility collectively. The Assembly reminds member states of the repeated appeals of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights for the need for effective responsibility sharing;

12.2.       provide urgent humanitarian aid and assistance to all those persons arriving on Europe’s southern shores and other borders, including through the provision of adequate accommodation, shelter and health care, as highlighted previously in Assembly Resolution 1637 (2008) on Europe’s boat people: mixed migration flows by sea into southern Europe;

12.3.       refrain from automatic detention and have recourse to detention only where there is no other reasonable alternative, ensuring that conditions comply with minimum human rights standards as outlined in Assembly Resolution 1707 (2010) on detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe;

12.4.       ensure that vulnerable persons, including women and children, victims of torture, victims of trafficking, and the elderly, are not detained and receive appropriate care and assistance;

12.5.       guarantee the right of asylum and non-refoulement through, inter alia:

12.5.1.       ensuring that states give access to their territory to persons in need of international protection;

12.5.2.       assuring the quality and consistency of asylum decisions in line with Assembly Resolution 1695 (2009) on improving the quality and consistency of asylum decisions in the Council of Europe member states;

12.6.       ensure that, in screening arrivals and carrying out asylum determinations, these are carried out without delay, but that speed is not given preference over fairness;

12.7.       provide full support to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other international and national organisations providing humanitarian and other assistance, both in North Africa and in the European countries of arrival, and generously take part in resettlement programmes for refugees stranded in North African countries;

12.8.       show solidarity in the challenges faced, which includes sharing responsibility with front-line states, including by:

12.8.1.       giving further support to the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex) and the newly established European Asylum Agency (EASO), and encouraging further use of European Union funding available through the External Borders Fund, the Return Fund, the European Refugee Fund and the Integration Fund;

12.8.2.       looking into the possibility of taking on commitments for resettlement of those with international protection needs from the European countries of arrival and on suspending the application of the Dublin Regulations or on considering other forms of responsibility sharing, through the use of existing mechanisms provided for in the Dublin Regulation, including the solidarity clause in Article 3(2) and the humanitarian clause in Article 15;

12.8.3.       working together, including with the European Union, on the issue of voluntary and forced returns, taking into account necessary human rights safeguards when relying on readmission agreements in line with Assembly Resolution 1741 (2010) on readmission agreements: a mechanism for returning irregular migrants;

12.8.4.        acknowledging the particularly difficult situation in which Malta finds itself, in view of the size of its territory, its high population density and limited human and material resources, and committing to the resettlement of those with international protection needs.

[***]

14.       If a mass exodus of Libyan refugees occurs because of increasing terror by Colonel Gaddafi or the emergence of a civil war, the Assembly encourages the European Union member states to consider applying the temporary protection directive (Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 on minimum standards for giving temporary protection in the event of a mass influx of displaced persons and on measures promoting a balance of efforts between Member States in receiving such persons and bearing the consequences thereof). It is important, however, to ensure that no states are considering returning Libyans at this stage and that at least a form of temporary protection is provided in practice.

[***]”

Click here for Resolution. (Resolution 1805 (2011))

Click here for Recommendation. (REC 1967 (2011))

Click here for PACE press statement.

Click here for Report, Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, Rapporteur: Ms Tineke STRIK, (Doc. 12581, 13 April 2011).

 

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Statement: European Commission’s response to the migratory flows from North Africa

The European Commission released a statement on 8 April summarising its actions.  Excerpts:

“[***]

Measures addressing the migration flows towards the European Union

Urgent measures already undertaken

The massive displacement of populations from several North African countries has been putting the protection and reception systems of some of the EU Member States, in particular in Italy and Malta, under increasing strain. The European Union has responded to these serious challenges in a rapid and effective manner with the aim of stabilizing the situation.

Frontex has deployed the Joint Operation EPN Hermes Extension 2011 to assist the Italian authorities in managing the influx of migrants from North Africa, most of whom have been arriving on the island of Lampedusa. This mission was launched on 20 February 2011, only four days after receiving the official request from the Italian authorities, a clear signal of solidarity between Member States. FRONTEX stands ready to continue the mission as long as it will be necessary, and to expand it, provided that Member States will make available the necessary staff, vessels and equipment. In view of the above the Commission is launching the necessary procedures for reinforcing the FRONTEX 2011 budget with an additional EUR 30 million.

Europol has also deployed a team of experts to Italy in order to help the national authorities to assist in detecting and preventing possible criminal of trafficking of human beings.

Regarding the financial needs linked with the displacement, the Commission’s four migration-related funds (the External Borders Fund, Return Fund, Refugee Fund and Integration Fund) are available to Member States. For example, Italy, one of the major beneficiaries of these funds, has been allocated €55 million for 2010 and €75 million for 2011. Moreover, the Commission makes available an additional €25 million of emergency funding which can be quickly mobilised under the External Borders Funds and European Refugee Fund.

What measures could be undertaken in the short-term?

Should the inflow of irregular migrants and possible refugees continue, the Commission envisages a number of short-term measures that might be taken.

Reinforcing Frontex

  • 1) The Joint Operation EPN HERMES Extension coordinated by FRONTEX could be considerably strengthened, with additional technical resources made available by Member States, and adequate financial resources.
  • 2) It is essential that FRONTEX is finally given a stronger operational mandate through a revision of its legal basis, which the Commission tabled in February 2010 (IP/10/184)
  • 3) FRONTEX should speed up negotiations to conclude working arrangements with the countries of origin and transit of irregular migration in the Mediterranean in the region (for example, with Egypt, Morocco and Turkey), and receive a mandate to negotiate similar working arrangements with other relevant countries (for instance Tunisia)

Resettlement of third country nationals

The continuous and possible increase in the flow of refugees (e.g. Somalis, Eritreans etc.), in need of international protection, coming from Libyan territory is an issue of major concern. The EU will not only continue to provide humanitarian assistance through its humanitarian office (ECHO), but it is also ready to offer through the European Refugee Fund financial support in view of facilitating the resettlement of persons in need of international protection. Resettlement represents not only a life-saving measure for the refugees concerned, but is also an important responsibility-sharing gesture towards the countries hosting them. Showing solidarity with the countries neighbouring Libya that are under pressure through resettlement can help to maintain ‘protection space’, as well as contributing to dialogue and cooperation on other issues of migration and border management.

The Commission has therefore been encouraging EU Member States to offer resettlement places, in a spirit of responsibility-sharing and in close cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A meeting was held with Member States on 25 March at which details of the most urgent needs were explained by the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), both of whom are actively engaged on the ground in the region.

The current crisis in the Mediterranean clearly demonstrates how imperative it is that the Council and the European Parliament make an effort to rapidly reach an agreement on the adoption of the Commission’s proposal for the establishment of an EU joint resettlement programme. This proposal would provide a structured basis for annual priority-setting, and linking those priorities with financial incentives, thereby encouraging more Member States to become involved in resettlement activities, and enhancing practical cooperation between Member States to that end.

Solidarity / Temporary Protection Directive

In the event of a massive inflow of persons who are likely to be in need of international protection, the Commission would expect Member States to demonstrate concrete solidarity with each other by directly assisting the States bearing the greatest burden. This could involve the relocation to other Member States of some persons seeking protection, or who have already received an international protection status.

Concrete assistance could likewise be provided by the newly-created European Asylum Support Office, one of whose central tasks is coordination of assistance to Member States whose asylum systems are under exceptional pressure. This could involve the deployment of so-called ‘asylum support teams’ to reinforce the capacities of a State to process asylum claims and to ensure appropriate reception conditions for asylum seekers.

The Commission would also be ready to consider proposing the use of the mechanism foreseen under the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive (2001/55/EC), if the conditions foreseen in the directive are met. Consideration could only be given to taking this step if it is clear that the persons concerned are likely to be in need of international protection, if they cannot be safely returned to their countries-of-origin, and if the numbers of persons arriving who are in need of protection are sufficiently great. Resort to this mechanism would allow for the immediate protection and reception in the territory of EU Member States for persons concerned, as well as offering a “breathing space” for the national asylum systems of the Member States most directly affected.

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200 or More Now Feared Dead in Migrant Boat Sinking Off Lampedusa – Boat Was Likely Coming from Libya, Not Tunisia

It now appears that the boat that capsized earlier this morning off of Lampedusa was carrying Sub-Saharan Africans and that it had sailed from Libya not from Tunisia. The boat departed from Zuwarah in western Libya according to the Times of Malta.  Woman and children were on board and are likely among the victims.  The accident occurred around 4:00 AM local time in very rough seas.  A call for help was made by satellite phone to Malta SAR.  ANSA reported a short time ago that 48 people have been rescued and approximately 20 bodies have been recovered.  IOM said that based on interviews with survivors there may have been as many as 300 people on board the boat.

Click here (EN), here (IT), and here (IT) for articles.



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Filed under Italy, Libya, Malta, Mediterranean, News